In this week's Finding Magic in Mishap post, Allison Snyder shares a story about a late-night trailhead disturbance and delayed start that turned out to be just what she needed.Read More
By Michele Dillon
Choose Mountains ambassadors Kim Bessler and myself, Michele Dillon held a Colorado Meet Up this past Saturday, December 16th. We took 9 other adventurous souls up to the summit of Greyrock Mountain in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a beautiful day outside, with light snow dusting on the surrounding landscape and a sun that was playing hide and seek. Two joyous pups joined in our adventure as well and they were the life of the party. By the end of the day, we had hiked 8 miles with 2,600 feet of elevation gain and left with new friends and smiles on our faces. Here is just a glimpse of the fun we had. We really hope that if you couldn't make this one, that you will be brave enough to join us for the next one!
On Saturday, October 29th, we had a meetup at Lake Valhalla by Stevens Pass in Washington. Everyone knew the weather was supposed to be straight awful. Downpours for days. But 22 people showed up anyway. ☺
We all awkwardly stood at the trail head as the rain drizzled down on to our colorful rain gear; anxiously awaiting the group photo before the hike (this time with a sweet new sign!).
I don't believe many, if any, had ever done this hike before. So, off we went into the woods. Per usual, the group breaks up due to the difference in pace. I personally tend to "run" (not literally) up the mountain, so you can always find me in the front of the pack. CJ and Luke lead the pack with me.
Once we began to climb, the rain turned into snow. Large, fluffy, snowflakes started floating down and we could not help ourselves from trying to catch them on our tongue and in our hands. It was a dreadful rainy day turned winter wonderland! As we climbed, the snow began to stick on the ground and on the trees, it 'twas magnificent.
After multiple switchbacks and winding through the forest, the lake appeared before our eyes to the left. It was a beautiful hue of blue thanks to all the minerals. There was a fog over the trees and part of the lake, so you could not see it all. And snowflakes were still falling. All we wanted to do was run down the rest of the trail so we could get there already! Which, we did so.
On our decent we ran in to a couple of ladies—Sara & Gunjan, who were rocking Choose Mountains gear and were hoping to run in to us on the trail (they just wanted to get an earlier start than us). Great meeting you, ladies!
We arrived at the lake and saw this:
But, it was still beautiful. Also, it was freezing. The big, fluffy, snowflakes turned into teeny tiny snow balls. Eventually the fog lifted and the lake emerged from the abyss. We all wandered around for a bit doing our own thing, eating our snacks, hanging our hammocks, and taking our epic mountain photos. Then, a horse appeared out of nowhere…
It was a Halloween hike after all. Also, it was Chrissie’s birthday; happy birthday to you, girl! Definitely a fun group of people!
I could not take the cold anymore so I trucked ahead with two other ladies as the rest of the group attempted (but did not succeed) to summit Mount McCausland.
On the trek back to the trail head, the snow was still coming down. The trees were blanketed with white and the trail was covered in snow; trackless. Until I came along… ☺
As we began to descend from the snow zone, the snow eventually stopped and all that was left were clouds. I began to run down the switchbacks (because that is just what I do) and I nearly missed the turn for the trail back to the trail head. **CAUTION on this part of the trail!** Thanks to this sign:
I made it back safely to the parking lot, where the skies began to peek a magnificent blue as I waited for the rest of the group to come down.
Once everyone was accounted for, minus two girls who we believe missed the turn and ended up on the PCT (later we found out they made it back safely), we hung out in the parking lot for a while, stuffing our faces and joking around. We all said goodbye, see you next time, and headed back over the pass to home. This is when the sun came shining through the clouds and left us with a beautiful sunset. I think you could call that a perfect day.
Caity is a Choose Mountains Ambassador based in Washington
Follow her: instagram.com/caitskis
By: Choose Mountains Ambassador, Elizabeth Briggs
For our first Colorado meetup, we wanted to keep things relatively simple. A nice, moderate hike in the Indian Peaks Wilderness just outside of Eldora seemed like a perfect fit, so we decided on the beautiful sub-alpine Diamond Lake Trail. Even though it had been a heavy snow year here in the Rockies and in May we celebrated the Second Coming of Winter, I felt confident that the low elevation of the lake and recent hot temperatures would have melted the area out by mid-June. Heck, I’d just climbed three different fourteeners the week prior and came across barely any snow, so I figured we’d be good to go. The last thing I anticipated was to come across a recent trip report stating that the trail to the lake was still inaccessible due to deep snow fields. Seriously? I thought. No way.
Cut to the night before the meetup and fellow CM ambassador Kim and I are pouring over maps and frantically trying to come up with a suitable backup plan just in case the lake was off-limits. Unfortunately, nothing else out of the same trailhead looked promising either. We finally agreed that it was way too late to change plans on everyone at that point, so why not just wing it and see what happens.
The next morning was a gorgeous 80-degree bluebird day when everyone gathered at the trailhead, ten of us in total. Folks chatted and went through the usual nice-to-meet-you pleasantries as Kim and I scanned the surrounding area for, as she put it, “all this so-called snow.” As expected, there was none to be found. At least not until we reached 10,600 ft. or so.
Unfortunately none of us got any pictures of all the mashed potatoes and corn we post-holed our way through, even though there was quite a bit and everyone ended up with wet feet. We were all too busy just trying to stay afloat!
Photos from the day:
We love having meetups in different states. Our next meetup is in New York in the Adirondacks to Gothics Mountain on Saturday, August 13th! Please join us by checking out events tab!